In the opening round of fixtures in the new La Liga season, Real Sociedad will make the trip to Nuevo Mirandilla to take on Cadiz on Sunday.
The visitors finished sixth last season to book a place in the Europa League group stage, while their hosts avoided relegation with a win on the final day.
In their second consecutive season in La Liga last time around, Cadiz found themselves fighting against the threat of relegation, having not climbed out of the bottom five at any stage from the beginning of November.
Sitting in the drop zone in the final knockings, a 1-1 draw with already-crowned champions Real Madrid on the penultimate day thanks to Ruben Sobrino‘s equaliser kept Sergio‘s side in the fight, and they went into the last round of fixtures needing to better the result of Granada or Mallorca to leap out of the bottom three.
Los Piratas made the trip to Alaves, and, after the game remained goalless for 75 minutes, Anthony Lozano would eventually hit the decisive goal to see his side preserve their top-flight status in dramatic fashion as Granada could only draw their match.
Turning their focus to the new campaign, Sergio’s side began their pre-season with wins over Barbate and Malaga and a draw with Las Palmas but now head into the curtain-raiser on the back of three straight defeats, having lost to Lille, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.
Cadiz will now hope to kick off their third straight survival bid in a positive manner, as they look to operate more comfortably in mid-table this time around.
They welcome a Real Sociedad side hoping to challenge for a top-four place this season after three consecutive years of finishing fifth and sixth.
With 54 points from 31 outings, La Real sat in a strong position to push Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the final run of the campaign, but they could not end with a strong run, eventually picking up just eight points from their last seven outings.
That was good enough to at least seal sixth spot for Imanol Alguacil‘s men, as they finished three points above Villarreal, three behind Real Betis and eight outside of the top four.
Such a finish saw the Basque outfit book a place in the Europa League group stage once again, after their exit in the playoff round last season at the hands of RB Leipzig, and they will hope to go one better this year and fight for a Champions League spot.
On the back of a mixed pre-season run, in which wins over Osasuna and AFC Bournemouth were followed by defeats to Eibar and Athletic Bilbao, La Real will be keen to make a winning start to the term at the weekend and put themselves in the leading pack from the outset.
Sergio will be unable to call on midfielders Ruben Alcaraz and Fede San Emeterio for the opening game of the season, as they are sidelined by injuries, with Tomas Alarcon and Alex Fernandez set to play key roles in their absence.
Veteran striker Alvaro Negredo will hope to keep his place in attack heading into the new term, having hit valuable tallies of seven and eight La Liga goals in the last two seasons.
He will be challenged by Lucas Perez, while Anthony Lozano has made himself a key man going forward for Los Piratas, netting nine goals and providing four assists in 31 league appearances last campaign.
Real Sociedad head into the start of the season without attacker Mikel Oyarzabal, who will continue his rehabilitation after suffering a long-term injury.
Alexander Isak will lead the front line in his absence, while Takefusa Kubo and Mohamed-Ali Cho could earn debuts after summer switches from Real Madrid and Angers respectively.
Brais Mendez will also be hoping for a first start for the club, although David Silva may again be preferred as the creative hub in a strong midfield unit featuring Mikel Merino and Asier Illaramendi.
Cadiz possible starting lineup:
Ledesma; Fali, Chust, Hernandez; Mabil, Mari, Alarcon, Fernandez, Espino; Lozano, Negredo
Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Gorosabel, Elustondo, Le Normand, Rico; Illaramendi, Merino, Silva; Cho, Isak, Kubo